What is required in order to teach dance in the public schools in Washington State?

As of the year 2008-2009, legislation in Washington State requires that all students be instructed in the Arts (including Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Art). It is apparent that more "highly qualified"
Dance Educators are needed to support the process. According to No Child Left Behind legislation, “highly qualified” means a teacher is both certified and qualified to teach their content area.


In order to become certified in the State of Washington, most teachers complete a teacher certification program at a university or college.  Courses can take from 15 months to several years, depending upon previous academic credit. Some courses provide a Masters degree; others are undergraduate. Teachers who are certified in some other states can also become certified in Washington.
Further information: http://www.k12.wa.us/certification/TeacherMain.aspx

Alternate Route Certification

Some teachers in Washington State have gained certification by an Alternate Route Certification process. The process is intended to make it possible for districts to hire teachers in an area of scarcity. The process happens under the guidance of a university or college, in a program designed specifically for someone who already has an undergraduate or graduate degree in dance, or professional experience in the field.  This intensive, internship program has a schedule geared for the working professional who is deciding to teach in the public schools, or for teachers with conditional certificates.  Because the alternate process serves districts that need instruction in an area of scarcity, district support may be necessary in order to accomplish the process. At the time of requesting this support, it is of great importance that the supporting district understands Washington State’s requirement for districts to include dance as one of the core areas. For information, visit OSPI’s arts section and read the PDF’s under the Arts Classroom-Based Performance Assessments (CBPAs) section. Since there are few dance positions in most districts, scarcity of dance specialists is implied. The most convenient step to make once there is a supportive district, is to research alternate routes.

Professional Educator Standards Board  


Every certified teacher needs to be endorsed in order to actually teach. In order to teach Dance at the level of kindergarten to 8th grade, a certified teacher needs to be endorsed as a K-8 Generalist (i.e., a teacher who can teach anything).  In order to teach at the high school level, a certified teacher needs an endorsement in the content area of Dance. A dance endorsement requires specific coursework, at a university or college accredited to provide a dance endorsement.  Both Western Washington University and the University of Washington now have accredited dance endorsement programs.  Again, an alternate process of endorsement by portfolio can be discussed with the department at WWU.
Further information: http://www.k12.wa.us/certification/teacher/endorsement.aspx.

Artist in Resident

Professional dancers have been teaching as Artists in Resident for years, supported by funding from granting agencies, individual school budgets, and PTAs.  For students, residencies provide valuable arts exposure; for artists, residencies provide income and teaching opportunities in the field.  Residencies have a few shortcomings, in that the income is without benefits, the work is usually short-term, and residencies may be expensive for a school.  During a residency, a certified teacher should be present at all times during instruction.

Teaching dance in the public schools can be immensely rewarding. More importantly, every child has the right to an education that includes dance!  The best way to pursue certification and endorsement is by talking to people who are already certified and endorsed or by contacting institutions of higher education with education and/or dance departments. Please don’t hesitate to contact DEAW with your questions, and we will try to put you in touch with people who can help find answers.

Please inquire at these higher education programs about acquiring a dance endorsement: